What about mentally disabled/ill people who “burn” and want to have sex but are not able to sustain a relationship/marriage?
Lake, for those who are severely disabled, there are many hard consequences. This would be one of them.
Always grateful when someone notes that unwanted singleness is an objective affliction. I am wont to say that being single doesn’t mean you have the gift of celibacy any more than being in Latin class means you have the gift of tongues. Of course if you are that poor ungifted Latin student, you still have to buckle down and learn Latin. And if you are that poor ungifted single person, you have to buckle down . . . and zip up.
Valerie, yes. And people who are dealing with this (hard) affliction have enough troubles without the whole Christian world telling them a lie.
Re: Revoice, Bundling, and the Borders of Celibacy Very good article, but there is still a big piece of the whole thing that, in my humble opinion, lots of judicious writers are missing. When we lost the use of a perfectly serviceable word, “gay,” the morphing of language didn’t stop there. Years ago, “gay” was about one’s deeds. You were gay if you had engaged in certain actions. But now the word “gay” denotes an attribute of the substance of one’s very soul. Gay has come to mean something decidedly ontological. The devil’s game here is to make “gay” into something that is impervious to repentance. You cannot repent, Satan would have you believe, of being human, or left-handed, or—ta da!—gay. You shouldn’t even try! So this is the mind game being played when people discuss how far a celibate gay Christian can go with expressing his affection. By using that language, we’ve already accepted the basic premise that Satan would use to drag people into darkness.
Steve, exactly so.
This (Revoice, Bundling, and the Borders of Celibacy) is an excellent article! Thank you! I want to make a quick comment on your last section, particularly the line, “The reason gay-friendly conferences are now a thing is because a gay-friendly evangelical world has been a thing.” First, I agree. Second, this comment reminded me of an article written by Thabiti Anyabwile back in 2013, “The importance of your gag reflex.” I would guess that he has received more negative feedback from this article than any other. I thought you may be interested to review the article because of your relationship with Thabiti. I suspect this is one of the many areas that the two of you agree. Sometimes that is nice to remember. Also, I don’t want to presume to tell you what to write about. But to my knowledge, neither you nor Thabiti tackled the effect of Revoice logic on our ability to interpret and be moved by texts like Romans 1. As you know, Romans 1 assumes we will all agree that the natural law makes it plain that homosexual relationships are outside of God’s natural boundaries and are worthy of judgment. It seems to me that conferences such as Revoice undercut the thunder of Romans 1, leaving it ultimately unable to convince us that the wrath of God really should be poured out against all ungodliness. Don’t mean to be presumptuous in writing to you. Excellent article, and thank you for your ministry.
Nathaniel, thank you.
RE: Revoice, Bundling, and the Borders of Celibacy If these revoice people think it’s ok to be gay as long as you don’t ‘act on it’ how is an ‘oath bonded friendship’ not ‘acting on it’? I wonder if rather than asking how celibacy is defined it would be better to say that anyone pursuing a homosexual relationship is rebelling against God?
Christopher, right. But what they are doing is setting aside a very narrow set of actions as being the only ones prohibited, and then granting themselves permission to walk up to that line. It is not hard to predict what will happen next.
Re: Revoice, Bundling and the Borders of Celibacy It seems to me these are the same questions which have plagued those in heterosexual relationships prior to marriage (dating, courting, etc.) who wish to teeter on the edge of acceptability. Once the church has let down its defenses in one direction, why should any be surprised that the battle ensues from the rear flank?
Stacey, right. These people are not rationalizing the borders of sexual sin because they are homosexual. They are rationalizing it because they are fallen human beings, just like heterosexuals who want something badly.
Thanks for your posts dealing with Revoice. This particular post (‘Revoice, Bundling, and the Borders of Celibacy’) reminded me of a quote from Hodge’s commentary on I Corinthians: “. . . He made these strenuous exertions, lest, having preached the gospel to others, he himself should become a reprobate, one rejected. What an argument and what a reproof is this! The reckless and listless Corinthians thought they could safely indulge themselves to the very verge of sin, while this devoted apostle considered himself as engaged in a life-struggle for his salvation.”
Steve, thanks for the quote.
I agree with you that Wesley Hill’s idea of “spiritual friendship” is awful, but I do agree with him that same-sex friendships are essential in fighting homosexual temptations. Homosexual desires are not just inordinate sexual desires. They are inordinate desires for friendship. They twist a good desire for camaraderie into something beyond the scope of God’s design. Therefore, it seems to me that one important step to fighting homosexual temptation is to develop healthy, strong, same-sex friendships so that that person may experience friendship as God designed it to be. But this can be difficult for those struggling with homosexual temptation for the same reasons you alluded to in your article. Same-sex attracted people long for a friendship like that between Frodo and Sam or David and Jonathan, but according to your article a friendship as intimate and affectionate as that should not be pursued, as it might foster homosexual temptation. This leaves same-sex attracted Christians feeling despair, for they are sentenced to a life of superficial friendships that contain little real intimacy or affection. You’ve told us how same-sex-attracted Christians should not pursue same-sex friendship. Would you consider writing a piece telling them how they should pursue same-sex friendships? Perhaps you could address this in that series of letters to the Christian struggling with same-sex attraction that you started a few months ago.
Brent, thanks for the suggestion. I quite agree that same sex friendships are key for Christians who are resisting these temptations. But they have to be actual friendships, the kind that Lewis described in The Four Loves, shoulder to shoulder, pursuing a common interest. Sex needs to be utterly absent from the equation. What Hill wants is a face-to-face friendship, serving as a stand-in for marriage. And those are going to blow up, one way or another.
Re: The borders of celibacy. Would we give a child a book of matches and tell them it’s okay to play with them as long as they didn’t light them?
Dan, no. Or was this a trick question?
“Jake Meador is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy and sons Wendell and Austin. Jake’s writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.” Below is Jake’s pitch for an “English III” class, although it may be a back handed pitch for a P. E. class! ; – ). Link here.
Jason, thanks for sharing.
In regard to the macro-situation regarding Paige Patterson: The evangelical elite that has been promoting “social justice” does so because they look to secular academia for intellectual guidance. That is why so many of their assumptions and terminology are borrowed from the secular left (e.g. intersectionality, critical theory, etc.) Disciplinary panels at secular universities are well-known to jettison due process for any man accused of a sexual infraction. Their reasoning is that the alleged crime is too serious to be left to such legal niceties. Seems like, once again, the evangelical elite is following the lead of the secular academy.
Paul, yes. Once again.
Thank you so much for taking the time to sort some of this out. I went to southeastern during Paige Patterson’s time there, and went to church with Dr. Mosley. When I saw that Dr. Mosley was involved with the alleged rape case, I knew something was fishy with all the mob-like accusations. Dr. Mosley is known as a kind, humble servant. I could never imagine that he would be involved in some type of crooked cover up.
Rena, thank you.
When I saw this story I thought the SBC was totally going for drama in this firing. Especially in light of the time lapse between the alleged events and the sudden firing. The SBC statement was confusing at best and doesn’t pass a very good smell test. Who knows whether the man should be fired or not, but why the need for theatrics?
Melody, you are right to note the difference between justice and justice theater.
Re: Pursue Justice First, Your Agenda Second: I want to thank you for your considered approach to this whole Paige Patterson ordeal. But I won’t. What strikes me is that, even in our conservative denominations, even from “conservative thought leaders” such as pastors and leaders of ethics commissions, a fair and biblical approach to such drama is a rare thing. I do not mean to demean you when I say that your insight is not so lofty that it should be beyond the average Christian. Yet it appears far beyond the grasp of even our most renowned figures. So instead of a psalm of thanksgiving, this is a song of lament. Our prophets, as said through Jeremiah, are leading us into futility. I delight in the voices of folk like yourself and Gagnon as in the refreshing breeze of the soft whisper after the roaring fire. Do keep speaking, so the faithful remnant will be heartened.
Mike, thank you.
The President of the SBC’s ERLC is frustrated in no longer having access to the White House due to his previous war of words and the SBC financial shortages are prompting questions about the existence of the ERLC. He seems to have been very vocal and quick on Patterson’s dismissal. He is a former academic dean in SBC seminary. Just observations.
Mike, yes. The SBC does need to remember the developing adage: “Go woke, go broke.”
I guess this line of thinking from Paige doesn’t apply for himself, just abused women? What’s he on now press release 2 and bogus article 1 . . . so much for being ok with being not represented properly. “It is our Lord who says don’t take it before the world,” Baptist luminary Paige Patterson said in a sermon recorded in the 2013 video. “Settle it within the church of God. And if you suffer for it—and if you are misused—and if you are abused—and if you’re not represented properly— it’s OK. You can trust it to the God who judges justly.”
Ryan, these are good words, and I don’t know if Patterson has followed them fully—although the robust and detailed defenses I have seen have not come from him. But whether he followed his own advice completely or not, he still should get due process.
The question is not whether or not Dr. Patterson’ behavior was bad enough to be fired; the question is whether or not his behavior/attitude is good enough to represent the heart and soul of the largest group of evangelicals in the world. It’s not. I am failing to see how this one is difficult.
Kaeley, I actually think that had he been fired for that sort of reason, it would have been the board’s prerogative. But if they insinuate that he was an enabler of abuse, then they need to make their case, and preferably they should not do it in the middle of the night when the defendant is out of the country.
Dennis Miller: “Some people see a trace of racism everywhere–they’re Tracists.” We’re well past the point of the racism issue being a bullying tactic and one has to wonder why the church isn’t standing up to it. Maybe as in the scenario of 2 Tim 3:6, we are weighed down with other real sins and easily muscled into feeling guilty over non-sins.
Ginny, the reason the woke people keep changing the rules, and the names of the offenses, is because they want everyone to function in a perpetual state of guilt. Because guilty people are easier to manipulate.